Here are the critical points to keep in mind to produce the best food garden of your life:
1. Soil prep is key. Mark adds four to five centimetres of finished compost to his veggie garden this week. He lets earth worms pull it down: he does not turn it under. Ben adds Bio Max composted cattle manure.
2. For root crops like carrots and beets add lots of 'play sand'. Dig it as deep as you expect your root crops to grow. Do you dream of nice long, sweet carrots? Dig in lots of sand.
3. Row cover. Cover all lettuce-type and brassicas with a floating row cover. There is an excellent version for sale at Home Hardware: the Mark's Choice Row Cover Kit for about $25. This prevents damage from a light frost and invasions of flea beetles and the dreaded cabbage moth.
4. Plant herbs in a hot spot in your garden. For this reason herbs generally lend themselves well to container planting. Containers warm up early and get hotter than terra firma and all herbs love heat.
5. Fruit trees. Do nothing while they are in bloom. Let them flower and let bees, honey and native bees alike, do their work undisturbed.
6. Feed your transplants. 10-52-10 or compost tea will get them off to a good start. Compost tea is made by 'steeping' a half filled pillow case with compost or composted manure in your rain barrel of a large bucket. After 48 hours it is ready. Mix 3 parts water with one part compost tea for great, all natural fertilizer.
7. Start 'hardening' off frost tender plants like tomatoes and peppers. This means placing them out of doors for short periods of about an hour, to start gradually increasing to a full day and then in about 2 weeks leaving them out over night.
The idea is to get the tender darlings used to the intensity of the sun, wind and cool evening temps before you plant outdoors in 10 days to 2 weeks.
More about Mark and Ben:
Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, author & broadcaster and holds the Order of Canada. His son Ben is a fourth-generation urban gardener and graduate of Guelph and Dalhousie University. You can sign up for their free monthly newsletter and find his weekly podcast & blog at www.markcullen.com.
An Organic Approach (5010-205), is available at Home Hardware.